For the past couple of months Dude has been on stand by as I've headed up into the hills with Jet or Sandy. He's stood in his paddock as I've pulled out other mustangs and halter broken them for their new owners. And he waited around while Darling and I went to the fair without him. In that time he's gone from being unsure about people getting into his personal space to what we like to call a pocket pony. He follows around like a big pest and you need to watch your toes or you may find him standing on them in an effort to get your attention. Dude is a people horse.
With the fair over and the excess horses moving out, it's time for me to shift my attention to Dude's training so that he'll be ready in the spring for Darling to begin riding. On Monday I drug my trusty rope out into the round pen with him, did a bit of lunging and then wrapped the rope around his belly to see what he thought about the pressure.
The pressure didn't bother him. He let me reach my arm under his belly without getting at all goosey about it and wasn't bothered by the feel of the rope cinching up. The saddle pad slipped up without any issue. So out came the old, beat up, made in Mexico saddle that has taken a licking and kept on ticking.
Up and down, up and down, I tossed it over his back. Three times, then leading him around while I carried it in my arms. Then three times more, and back to leading. Never up there long enough for him to think about it. At first he thought me a bit looney to be putting that up there, but by the third set of up and downs, he was no longer caring, so I led him in a small circle. No cinch to hold it in place, just the weight of something up there.
The following morning (without my camera girl present) I once again tossed the saddle onto Dude's back. This time I added the cinch, and other than a few unsure steps backwards as I began to tighten it, he didn't offer up any objections. I lunged him at a walk and trot both directions, and the feel of the girth beneath his belly didn't appear to give him any grief. At this rate it won't be long before this little guy's an old broke pony!